TikTok Shop Goes Live in the U.S.


TikTok is rolling out its shopping platform to its U.S. audience. 

TikTok Shop will now bring shoppable videos and LIVE streams directly to For You feeds across the country — and give brands, merchants and creators the tools to sell directly through shoppable content on the TikTok app,” the social media platform said in a news release Tuesday (Sept. 12).

The service has been undergoing testing in the U.S. since last November but is now open to users nationwide. TikTok has 150 million users in the U.S.

According to the announcement, the offering includes a product showcase, where users can browse product tiles, read reviews and buy directly from a favorite brand’s profile. 

TikTok also offers an affiliate program, where creators and sellers connect via “commission-based product marketing opportunities” that let creators “monetize their creativity” by sharing products in short videos and livestreams.

The roll-out hasn’t been without controversy. Besides data privacy concerns, a report last week by Bloomberg News said the TikTok Shop has been hampered by overwhelming choices and a free-for-all marketplace, with shoppers presented with a never-ending scroll of “recommended” random products.

While there are a wide range of options, “misspelled brand names and implausible prices on some listings raise concerns about potential counterfeit sales,” PYMNTS noted. 

A spokesperson for the company told Bloomberg: “Even in testing, there are over 200,000 verified U.S. merchants on TikTok Shop selling legitimate products, including over 150,000 beauty products that have been validated through our process and represent some of the biggest names in the beauty business.”

Meanwhile, PYMNTS spoke Thursday with Sujatha Mamidibathula, the head of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) at TikTok, who shared strategies for SMBs to acquaint themselves with the platform and its features to better go viral.

“I think misconception, or rather one mis-expectation, is focused on virality versus focus on community,” said Mamidibathula. “My suggestion is for SMBs to focus on community. Focus on building that, and virality will come to you.” 

She added that the chief focus should be on consistently creating and engaging TikToks to build a strong presence on the platform and foster a thriving community around it. 

“Virality, although undoubtedly an attractive prospect, should not be the sole fixation,” PYMNTS wrote. “Pinning all hopes on when a video explodes into the viral stratosphere can be a narrow and often frustrating pursuit.”